How to Poop on a Plane With Absolutely No One Noticing

pooping on a plane
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Some things don’t require an explanation. Then you read a story about someone spreading feces all over an airplane bathroom and think “Welp, cross ‘using the airplane bathroom’ off that list.” To be fair, pooping on an airplane isn’t as straightforward as your average home session, or even anonymously dropping one in a public bathroom. And in an era when fights break out on planes over armrests, it’s only a matter of time before a story about a melee over toilet odor goes viral.

To save you from yourself -- if you remember only one thing from the sage wisdom we’re offering here -- leave your phone in your pocket while you’re in the john. Never in the history of bathrooms has a phone sped up a trip, and you’re just exposing a surface that you press against your face to particulates you’d rather not snuggle with.

Want more? Here’s everything you need to know to take a polite, efficient dump on the plane.

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Thrillist video

Your timing is everything

Finding the right time to hit the loo on a plane is an art form, right up there with painting and good Botox. Go too early, and you’ll risk the whole plane knowing it was you who stunk up the joint. Go too late and, well, it’s a pretty uncomfortable flight.

The best time to poop on a plane is right after the flight attendants bust out the beverage cart. Most people won’t get up and risk getting stuck behind it, so you won’t fight lines, and it’s unlikely that you’ll find anyone waiting when you get out.

If you miss that opportunity, go when there’s a small (keyword: small) line for the lav. There will be an inherent diffusion of defecation, whereas it’ll be hard to pin down who, exactly, was the pooper.

Pick the right lavatory

On a lot of planes you won’t really have a choice, so the “right” lavatory is the one with an operative bowl and a sink. But if you find yourself on a larger plane with entire bathroom sections, find the largest concentration of bathrooms and go there. Even if a line forms, they won’t all be waiting on you, so you can relax while you do your business.

Pack some baby wipes

Airplane toilet paper seems like it’s the result of a physics experiment to find the thinnest possible solid on the planet. You’ll use more of it to get yourself clean than you’ll need draft beer to catch a buzz in Utah, so pack a set of baby wipes in your carry-on. They flush down the toilet just fine and prevent both chafing and insufficient personal cleaning.

line the bowl
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Line the bowl

The more-OCD among us will habitually make field-expedient ass-gaskets out of toilet paper to cover the seat. But since airplane toilets don’t use water -- and therefore don’t always clean all your “evidence” off the bowl -- extend that layer of TP inside the bowl itself. This almost guarantees a clean crapper when you’re done, and might even help absorb some of the smell and cover your tracks, so to speak.

Make quick business of your business

Not that the cozy confines of the airplane bathroom are a place you’d want to kick back and catch up on Stephen King novels, but in case you were thinking about making this your own personal sanctuary away from economy class, don’t. There’s likely close to 200 people on this plane and only a couple of bathrooms, and odds are someone else is going to have to go. Treat airplane dumps like a work trip to Bakersfield: Get in, do your business, and get the hell out as fast as humanly possible.

Flush early and flush often

If you’re worried about having your intestines sucked out by the hyper vacuum that is an airplane toilet flusher, think about this: In the era where a barking dog on a plane goes viral, have you heard ONCE about someone getting disemboweled in an airplane lav? No. So go ahead and hit that flush button as soon as your solids hit the bowl -- it will minimize the number of smelly poop molecules in the air. Repeat every time a new delivery drops. Then do it once more for good measure. Courtesy flushing on an airplane is kind of like thanking your parents: you can never do it too much.

Bring in some coffee grounds

This is actually an old flight attendant trick, where they’d hang coffee grounds wrapped in napkins or toilet paper in the lavatories to help keep the smell down. You don’t see it so much anymore, but if you’re self-aware enough to know your shit does, in fact, stink, it’s not a bad move. Not so big on DIY coffee packets? Acquire some from your in-room coffee maker at your hotel, or buy pre-made packets at the grocery store.

soap
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Use more soap than you think you need

Fortunately we haven’t gotten to the point of airlines charging an extra fee for bathroom soap yet, so go ahead and use as much of that fun, foamy stuff as you can. The more that gets in the air, the better the smell, and the cleaner your hands. If you need a method to make sure this gets done, here ya go: Get up and wash your hands as soon as you’re done. Then flush. Then wash your hands again. Clean the bathroom up one final time then, you guessed it, wash a third time. It’ll be like you and your solid waste were never there.

Or, coat your arms in soap and wave 'em in the air

Barney Stinson gave us all a lot of sage wisdom, but perhaps none of better than this gem from Neil Patrick Harris: “You laugh, but this is effective -- use hand soap. Put it on your hands and all over your arms, and do, like, tai chi moves with your arms."

Step outside and maintain eye contact with anyone in line

Let’s treat modern-day flying like what it is: monkey-house rules. In the animal kingdom, eye contact is key to dominance. If you’ve just marked your territory in the bathroom, make sure you look whoever’s next straight in the eye and act like you, too, are grossed out by whoever pooped in there before you. Breaking eye contact will make them think you’re ashamed, and thus, the guilty pooper. Looking them square in the face says, “Yeah, it might smell a little in there. But you don’t know it was me. And if it was, hey, deal with it. I’m king of this jungle.” With your eyes, of course, or you’ll risk a fistfight that lands you both all over the internet.

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Matt Meltzer is a contributing writer to Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.